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Dr. Olivia Hooker, Psychologist

Dr. Olivia Hooker has dedicated much of her long career to understanding and helping children with developmental disabilities. As a survivor of the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921, she’s also campaigned to raise awareness of that terrible event and seek reparations for the victims.

Six-year-old Olivia and her siblings survived the riots by crouching under the family's kitchen table. Afterward, they left the devastated community and moved to Ohio. Hooker completed her schooling and graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in psychology and education. In 1945, she became the first black woman to serve in the Coast Guard.

After the war, Hooker got her doctorate in psychology, focusing on the learning abilities of children with Down syndrome. She went on to become a professor at Fordham University and a director of the Kennedy Child Study Center in New York City. She was a founder of the American Psychological Association’s Division 33, an organization of specialists who research and treat intellectual and developmental disabilities. She continued practicing until age 87.

Children’s Health Fund carries on Hooker’s work by treating children with developmental disabilities, and by offering mental health services for survivors of trauma.

Want to help celebrate Black History Month? Share a photo of the happy, healthy children in your life on Instagram or Twitter and tag your post #StartWithASmile. For every photo posted, Colgate-Palmolive will donate $1.00 to Children’s Health Fund.